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EAC football players interact with students at the Safford Middle School Fall Festival

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[Click Image to Enlarge] EAC football players interact with students from Safford Middle School during its annual Fall Festival. [Contributed photo]

By Todd Haynie

THATCHER, AZ—EAC’s Gila Monster football team was recently invited to attend Safford Middle School’s annual Fall Festival to help run the booths, pose for photos, play games, and participate in the events with the students.

Safford Middle School holds a Fall Festival and a Spring Fling event each year and EAC’s head football coach, John O’Mera, brings about 20 of his players.

“It’s fun to watch these ‘big kids’ drop their guard, lose their egos, and fit right in with the middle schoolers,” said O’Mera. “Every time we go, it never fails; before we get there, the players don't think it is that big of a deal, but once they start interacting with the kids, you can see them lighten up and really start to have a good time. In the end many of them have told me it was the most fun they have had since they came to EAC.”

Safford Middle School principal, Clay Emery, feels the presence of the EAC football players helps to make the Festival successful. “This is the third time we’ve had these guys here at one of our events,” said Emery. “And it’s been a positive experience for our students. It shows them that you can be a college athlete and can still have a good character and be good role models. These guys that [O’Mera] brings over are outstanding.”